The region’s early years scholars will have the opportunity to learn acceptance at a younger age thanks to a resource kit launched on Thursday night.
The Aboriginal Early Years Activity Resource is designed to offer a broader understanding of Aboriginal symbols, stories and games for young children from all cultures.
The first of its kind in the region, the kit is the brainchild of Keerray-Woorroong (the Maar Nation–Gunditjmara) early years educator and artist Sherry Johnstone.
The kit is filled with colouring-ins, card games in traditional language, pronunciation charts, terminology and discussion topics.
It was launched before a crowd of almost 100 children, educators, Aboriginal community members and elders at the Warrnambool Art Gallery on Thursday.
The event featured encouragement in language by local elders Uncle Robbie Lowe Senior, Uncle Locky Eccles, and a group of Warrnambool kindergarten children.
Ms Johnstone said the ‘tool kit’ that was two-and-a-half years in the making, was a product born of necessity.
“After 15 years of working in children’s education I thought I’d create my own as I saw there was a real lack of resources of this kind,” she said. “I’d seen too many classroom teachers just avoid talking about Aboriginal culture because most were unsure about it and they didn’t want to get it wrong.
“I hope it (the kit) gives teachers greater confidence and ideas to easily incorporate Aboriginal culture (including language) within their programs and services.”
The earlier we start to change perceptions, the earlier we can start to achieve acceptance.Sherry Johnstone
Ms Johnstone said the resource kit had been trialed in several south-west kindergartens in the past months and was well supported.
“It’s short and simple for teachers to use in teaching plans and it’s endorsed by local Indigenous folk,” she said. “And this is a cultural resource specific to our region.”
The kit was funded by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) with support from Oz Child.
Copies have been provided free to all preschool programs and sites across south west Victoria.